Why Megan Markle may be the best thing since sliced bread for the UK

Because she is opening people’s eyes for what they didn’t want to see and made them listen to what they didn’t want to hear. Because it will slowly make them aware that the issue is broader than racism and extends to many other -isms and -igynies and -phobias.

I just spotted this image on Twitter. When you – I – say that some thing or some place is toxic, you may feel that maybe you’re exaggerating a little bit and do your best to remain pleasantly silent. Adjust, adapt.

That stops when you see and hear others say it. That is the big merit of Megan and Harry, all the things they have spoken out about, chosen not to stay silent about.

These are CNN headlines from June 2020:

Portsmouth Police breaking the law again

They don’t have the time and resources to solve crimes against individuals, unless those individuals have been killed, but they do still have the time and resources to send two or three cars to follow me and hunt me through the city to play PacMan.

They love playing PacMan with migrants and with women.

They first did this to me in 2009. February it was.

Of course, when you call them out on it, they always say that they don’t have the time and resources for that kind of crap.

So on my way back, I walked up to the central police station in Portsmouth, and addressed its CCTV camera:

You. Need. To. Observe. The. Law.

The law!

 

That’s the kind of police we have in Britain – barbaric, lawless and abusive – for which we pay through our council tax. They’re straight out of a film of police brutality and incompetence of the wild-west US in the past.

Two or three police cars were following me all over town again yesterday evening, slowing down when they passed me, backing up and returning when I took a left or right, etc.

It’s happened  too many times before.

And this kind of crap takes up most of their time. Hunting down citizens who dare report crimes and who dare stand up against the utterly lawless British police. They don’t seem to do anything else but this.

I have on occasion stood by on purpose myself to serve as possible witness in police brutality cases when I saw them hunt other people. But they are too clever to attack people in plain public view, I am sure.

We pay for this harassment through our council tax. We pay for it ourselves!

Portsmouth has the highest CCTV density of the UK, so yes, police can hunt anyone through the city, in retaliation or just for fun.

I also got a creep on a bicycle after me, along Albert Road, to tell me that women deserve to go hungry, should not be allowed to own any property of any kind, should not be allowed to work and should not be allowed to earn a living, or even be healthy and happy and that they should generally keep their mouths shut.

I told him it was the 21st century, that the middle ages were a long time ago and I crossed the road. The kid was not even half my age. He should apologize to all the women he owes his existence to, starting with his mother, but he won’t see it that way, clearly. In his eyes, women are lower than cattle. Usable and disposable. Not worth shit.

In case you wonder what the hell I am still doing in this shitty hell hole, well, I’ve tried to escape four times already. I also sometimes foolishly think that I can help make things better here, simply through my presence.

Also, I had formally raised the issue about the problems with local police again this week. Some retaliation was to be expected.

This photo below shows you what my door looks like when I am not in, these days. Three locks on the inside, warning note on the outside and a barricade in front of it, to stop, eh, anonymous elements, from shimmying the locks and carrying out crap in my flat – which has been going on since 2011, with the approval of Portsmouth Police.

Updated on 12 July 2019
At the moment, I am not using the vacuum cleaner to block my door, but the basket and two older printers. There was a time when I believed there was a local person with a brain-related impairment behind it, but it’s more complicated than that.

 

 

Mansplaining

“I don’t agree with you. What you just told me, well, that’s never happened to me. (And I wasn’t there when you said it happened to you. So it never happened, period.)”

“And anyway, I think you’re crazy. (You’re a woman and everybody knows that women are crazy.) It’s all those hormones. Women are way too emotional. (Always seeing things that aren’t there.)”

“(She’s getting too old for technology, but I am not going to say that in her face. Everybody knows that only large corporations get hacked. She’s just imagining things because she doesn’t know which buttons to press.)”

“(I bet she has a crush on him and he rejected her.)”

And various versions and combinations of the above.

That’s the real mansplaining.

It includes the fact that people who did speak out about the Harvey Weinsteins in the world in the past were dismissed with this type of bullshit arguments.

However, being a male feminist does not mean that you need to take an interest in whether a woman has ever been raped or not. That’s a common misunderstanding. Women’s emancipation is about a little bit more than women no longer getting raped.

 

How gender and stereotypes can shape our relationship with dogs

Whose best friend? How gender and stereotypes can shape our relationship with dogs

File 20170928 15028 bvmdp9
One man and his dog.
Pierre Malou, Author provided

Paul McGreevy, University of Sydney and Fiona Probyn-Rapsey, University of Wollongong

The relationship between people and their dogs can be a lasting and loving bond if the match is right. But when acquiring a dog, how do you know if that match will be a good one?

Research shows there is a difference in the way some dogs react to men and women, and it can also matter if the dog is a he or a she.

The challenge lies in understanding the interactions of dogs with humans. And part of that challenge can be influenced by gender stereotypes of both humans and dogs.


Read more: I’ve always wondered: can animals be left- and right-pawed?


This shows why matching dogs to people is far more complicated than we might predict.

Dogs extend their innate social skills to humans.
Paul McGreevy, Author provided

Humans and dogs: a long history

Humans have been co-evolving with dogs for thousands of years. We owe them a lot, including (perhaps surprisingly) the ways in which we experience and express gender via animals.

This often happens in negative ways, such as when women are referred to as bitches, cows, pigs, birds, chicks and men as wolves, pigs, rats. None of these animal metaphors have much to do with the animals themselves but more to do with how we use categories of animals to categorise humans.

So unpacking and challenging gender stereotypes might just also improve the lives of animals too.

A 2006 landmark analysis of gender and dog ownership revealed that owners use their dogs as props to display their own gender identities.

Participants in this study considered female dogs to be less aggressive but more moody than apparently more playful male dogs. They used gender stereotypes not only to select dogs, but also to describe and predict their dog’s behaviour and personality.

Learning to fetch.
Paul McGreevy, Author provided

The potential ramifications of this are important because such flawed predictions about dog behaviour can lead to a person giving up on their dog, which is then surrendered to a shelter.

Once surrendered, an aggressive bitch or uncooperative dog faces a grim future, with most dogs who fail a behavioural assessment being killed, adding to the troubling euthanasia rates in Australia.

That said, the predictive power of behaviour assessment in shelters is being questioned. Some say the ability of such assessments to reliably predict problematic behaviours in future adoptive homes is “vanishingly unlikely”. Moreover, the assessments are likely to be informed by the gendered expectations and behaviours of the humans who assess, surrender or adopt.

A small study in the UK in 1999 observed 30 dogs in shelters when approached by unfamiliar men and women. It found that the female dogs spent less time looking towards all the humans than the male dogs did.

All the dogs barked at and looked towards the women less than the men, which the researchers suggest shows that gender of the potential adopter plays a role in determining what a good match might look like, as well as the likelihood of adoption.

Dogs and bitches may have different motivations.
Paul McGreevy, Author provided

Even the bond that dogs share with their primary care-giver may have gender differences. For example, in a 2008 Australian study (led by one of us, Paul), dog owners reported that male dogs showed elevated levels of separation-related distress compared to female dogs. They also reported that separation-related distress and food-related aggression increased with the number of human adult females in the household.

Desexing, which is more than justified by the animal welfare benefits of population control, also complicates cultural beliefs about appropriate dog gender and may even influence a dog’s problem-solving behaviour. A recent study published this year suggests that desexing may have a more negative effect on female than male dogs when it comes to aspects of cognition.

A study (co-authored by one of us, Paul) published last month, that focused solely on working sheepdogs and their handlers (and so may have limited relevance to domestic companion dogs), is the first report of behavioural differences related to gender difference in both dogs and humans.

Gender stereotypes

These studies underline just how much the lives of dogs depend upon how they conform to gender expectations. In other words, it’s not just how we humans interact with dogs that matters, it’s how our genders interact as well.

While we know how damaging stereotypes can be for humans, dog owners may not consider just how their conceptual baggage of gender stereotypes affects the animals they live with.

Most dogs excel at fitting into our homes and lives.
Paul McGreevy, Author provided

More research can help to shed light on the role that gender plays when it comes to making a good match between humans and their dogs; and by good match, we mean one that will result in a decrease in the likelihood of the dog being surrendered to a shelter or treated badly.


Read more: Curious Kids: How can you tell if your cat is happy and likes you?


The take-home message from these studies is that, to be truly successful mutual companions, dogs don’t need just any human, they need a complimentary human who is open to reflecting critically on gender stereotypes.

Thanks partly to an uncritical adoption of gender stereotypes, the matching of dog and human is currently rudimentary at best. So we should not be surprised if dogs often fail to meet our expectations.

The ConversationWhen relationships go wrong, it’s catastrophic for dogs, because it contributes to euthanasia rates in shelters. These deaths need to be better understood as a broader failure of human understanding about how their own beliefs and behaviour affect the dogs in their lives.

Paul McGreevy, Professor of Animal Behaviour and Animal Welfare Science, University of Sydney and Fiona Probyn-Rapsey, Professor of Humanities and Social Inquiry, University of Wollongong

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.